property is theft?

Anton Sherwood (
Fri, 24 Oct 1997 18:38:05 -0700 (PDT)

Kristen Brennan writes
: "When does theft become property?" Is a touchy issue.
: If the Federal government doesn't "really" own something because they
: stole it decades ago, what's to stop a member of a racial minority from
: claiming that I don't "really" own my car, because it was bought with
: money from my job, which I obtained partially thanks to my education,
: which I obtained partially due to my priviledged upbringing and parent's
: income, which priviledge was partially due to race, because white people
: have several economic and social advantages over other races in this
: country, because our ancestors committed theft, forced slavery, and
: several other crimes?

You could ask the "victim" whether they'd be happier in whichever
kleptocracy their African ancestral homeland has become.

I'm in the same boat: child of White professionals, who got me
a (tax-subsidized) college education with their (tax-subsidized)
academic salaries. On another hand, I'd probably be just as good
at my present job if I'd never been to college at all.

But can't I escape the charge of benefitting from slavery, on the grounds
that I'm descended from Quakers (who, as far as I know, were consistently
anti-slavery) and later immigrants (who came from Scandinavia after
slavery was abolished)?

: While ingenuity, hard work, etc., contribute to ownership, isn't
: there always also a correlation with one-time theft, albeit sometimes
: abstracted by quite a few layers?

Not unless you use a broad definition of "theft". In America, the
socioeconomic rank of a family has a very low correlation with that
of the same family only three generations before.

(cf Jack Vance _The Gray Prince_)

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\*